King and Queen to visit Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt - program

From Tuesday 7 to Friday 10 February, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima will pay a working visiting to the German Bundesländer Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. The purpose of the visit is to deepen trade and investment relations and promote cooperation in three key sectors: high-tech systems and materials (HTSM), chemicals and flood protection. The programme also encompasses these eastern states’ cultural, historical and social development, including the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Second World War and the reunification of Germany.

Every year the King and Queen visit one or more Bundesländer, and these visits always include an economic dimension. On this visit the royal couple will be accompanied by Lilianne Ploumen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, who will head a trade mission in parallel with the royal visit. The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, will be present for the segments of the programme that relate to water management.

Tuesday 7 February – Thuringia

500th anniversary of the Reformation – Wartburg Castle

2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, which sparked the Protestant Reformation. Luther was banished as a result, and lived incognito in Wartburg Castle for a year in 1521. It was there that he translated the New Testament into German. This translation formed the basis for standard modern German. The King and Queen will visit the castle and Luther’s study. In the evening they will be guests at a dinner devoted to a discussion of the Reformation and its impact on religion and culture.

Thuringia, 7 February 2017.

Thuringia, 7 February 2017.

Thuringia, 7 February 2017.

Wednesday 8 February – Thuringia and Saxony

Pre-war Jewish culture – Alte Synagoge – Erfurt

Erfurt is the home of the Alte Synagoge, the oldest building of its kind in Europe. Its origins date back to 1094. During the Nazi period the building was used as a warehouse and an inn. Its original use was only discovered in 1992. The King and Queen will visit the synagogue, which is now a museum devoted to Jewish life in Erfurt. 

In Erfurt the King and Queen will meet with Minister-President of Thuringia Bodo Ramelow at the state chancellery.

Remembering and commemorating – Buchenwald

The royal couple will then visit the site of Buchenwald concentration camp, which was initially built in 1937 as a prison and labour camp for opponents of the National Socialist regime. Starting in May 1940, an estimated 3,000 people from the Netherlands were also deported to Buchenwald. Over 500 Dutch people died there. In total over 280,000 people from more than 50 countries were held there, around 56,000 of whom died. The King and Queen will lay flowers at a memorial to the victims.

In Leipzig, too, the royal couple will commemorate prisoners from the Netherlands who were subjected to forced labour in Germany.

Buchenwald, 8 February 2017.

Cultural history – Weimar

In Weimar the royal couple will be given a tour of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library and the Goethe and Schiller Archive. The library, which was established in 1691, is a centre for research in the field of literature and cultural history, with a focus on the Enlightenment to the late Romantic period. 

Weimar, 8 February 2017.

The Goethe and Schiller Archive was founded by Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the daughter of King William II and Anna Pavlovna. She set up the archive in 1889 after the grandson of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had bequeathed the latter’s estate to her and after she had been entrusted with the papers of Friedrich Schiller.

Between the two visits the royal couple will have lunch in the atrium of the Bücherkubus, a public library, at the invitation of Minister-President Ramelow. At the lunch both the King and the Minister-President will give a speech.

Weimar, 8 February 2017.

Trade mission – high-tech systems and materials event – Jena

German and Dutch companies and institutions involved in the HTSM sector will participate in an event at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology. The companies will brief the royal couple about advances in optical technology and semiconductors and will showcase their products, such as lenses, chips and robots. The couple will also speak with students at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Following that, they will be shown a 14-meter-high device for the controlled development and production of fibre optic cables.

Trade dinner – Leipzig – Saxony

The King and Queen will attend a trade dinner for the Dutch companies and institutions participating in Minister Ploumen’s trade mission, and their German partner companies. The dinner will be held at the Kongresshalle am Zoo in Leipzig. 

Thursday 9 February – Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt

Energy – community – enterprise – Leipzig

In the morning the King and Queen will visit the European Energy Exchange (EEX), where electricity, natural gas, coal and CO2-emission certificates are traded. It is the largest exchange of its kind in Europe. The Energiewende, the long-term transition to sustainable, safe and affordable energy sources, will be spotlighted during the royal couple’s visit. In addition, electricity system operator TenneT will provide the King and Queen with information about the construction of a high-voltage grid in Germany.

The royal couple will then visit Grünau, one of the largest Plattenbau (pre-fab concrete housing) neighbourhoods in the former GDR. In the 1980s nearly 90,000 people lived in these flats; the current number of residents is around 40,000. The neighbourhood is a symbol of the GDR and the difficult period that followed Germany’s reunification. After their walk the King and Queen will speak to a few local residents at the community centre.

A former cotton spinning mill is now home to a startup accelerator, where young entrepreneurs collaborate with cultural institutions. The royal couple will attend an event there which brings together all the parties associated with this venture: institutes of higher professional education, companies, sponsors, startups and investors.

At the former town hall of Leipzig, Minister-President Stanislaw Tillich of Saxony will host a lunch, where both Mr Tillich and the King will deliver a speech.

Leipzig, 9 February 2017.

Trade mission – Biobased Chemicals – Leipzig

During the visit to Saxony, a gathering will take place of around 70 Dutch and German experts from the ‘green chemistry’ sector. The royal couple will be present for the signing of two partnership agreements, including one involving the Dutch platform Biobased Delta, which seeks to promote investment in biomass (including wood) which is transformed into high-quality chemical components. The royal couple will speak with various experts and representatives of companies about technological applications.

Leipzig, 9 February 2017.

The grounds of this research institute once contained a munitions factory, where 500 Dutch slave labourers were put to work. The royal couple will visit the information centre to learn more about this dark page in history.

Leipzig, 9 February 2017.

500th anniversary of the Reformation – Wittenberg – Saxony-Anhalt

In the afternoon the King and Queen will be given a tour of All Saint’s Church, the place where Martin Luther displayed his 95 theses. The church is also his final resting place. 

That evening Minister-President Reiner Haseloff of Saxony-Anhalt will host a dinner at Wittenberg town hall, where both he and the King will deliver a speech.

Wittenberg, 9 February 2017.

Friday 10 February – Saxony-Anhalt

Architecture – Bauhaus – Dessau

In the morning the King and Queen will visit the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau. The foundation of the Bauhaus art academy in 1919 was motivated by a desire to transform art and architecture. From art nouveau, with its emphasis on decoration, the focus switched to functionalism, which was intended to project an image of progress. The royal couple will take tour of the permanent exhibition where they will learn about the influence of the Dutch ‘De Stijl’ movement on Bauhaus.

Trade mission: flood protection – Dessau – Oranienbaum

At the Kornhaus on the river Elbe the royal couple will attend presentations on flood protection and the rivers of the future. The Dutch research institute Deltares will present a simulation of an early-warning flood protection system, which was developed with counterparts in Germany. The King and Queen will take a tour of various stands displaying new technology, including an app designed to predict high water.

Flood protection – cultural heritage – Oranienbaum

The royal couple will be given a brief tour of Schloss Oranienbaum estate, which is currently being restored. The surrounding estate was given to Henriette Catharina van Anhalt-Dessau, Princess of Orange-Nassau, in 1660. The present schloss, which is named after her family, was designed by a Dutch architect.    

Oranienbaum, 10 February 2017.

In 2002 and 2013, the building was damaged when the river Elbe flooded, and a flood-protection strategy was subsequently devised. The schloss will be the venue of a farewell lunch which will provide an opportunity for water management experts to share knowledge and experience on the rivers of the future.

Oranienbaum, 10 February 2017.